Pune: Lakhs of passengers are travelling to their hometowns for Diwali from the city. To ease the rush of passengers, the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) is plying additional buses across the State. However, MSRTC workers’ unions have declared a State-wide ‘stop work’ protest from Monday midnight following the failure of a meeting with Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to convince the workers to withdraw the strike.
The ST Workers’ Union has demanded salaries keeping with the 7th Pay Commission and the pay should be as per the grade. The workers have also demanded 25 per cent interim hike till the revised salary contract is made.
In this backdrop, passengers are in a dilemma whether to go by ST buses or private buses.
According to sources from the MSRTC, Pune division, around 60,000 passengers travelled from Pune on Saturday and Sunday. If the strike commences, the MSRTC will face a huge loss.
This year, the MSRTC is running 2,658 buses across the State, including Vidarbha, Marathwada from the ST stand, Shivajinagar, CoEP ground, Pimpri-Chinchwad bus station and Swargate to clear the extra rush.
Many buses from Swargate and Shivajinagar ST stand are plying to Aurangabad, Latur, Kolhapur, Nagpur, Nashik and other parts of the State.
Sandeep Pacharne of Kolhapur told Sakal Times, “If we travel by private buses, they will charge over Rs 2,500 as they know the strike is commencing from Monday midnight. If we go by ST buses, the union has threatened to stop buses.”
Rajendra Ingale (48), who cancelled his ST bus tickets for going with the family to Latur to celebrate Diwali, told Sakal Times, “It’s very confusing. If I choose to go by a private bus, they will charge extra and if I choose an ST bus, I don’t know whether I will reach my destination. So, I cancelled my ticket and will decide on Tuesday whether to travel.”
Over 700 private buses depart from Pune daily to various destinations during Diwali. This year, fares have gone up by 10 per cent to 100 per cent depending on the rush of passengers on a particular route.
Private operators roped in
Meanwhile, State Home Ministry brought out a circular allowing private buses, school buses, buses owned by companies as well as goods carriers to carry out public transport. The order has been passed under Section 66 (3) of Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 to deal with the strike.
They will be allowed to carry out public transport from the midnight of Monday as long as the the MSRTC workers’ strike is on,” said an official.
Meanwhile, officials with Pune Division of the MSRTC said they are trying their best to convince the staffers to stay away from the strike and report to work.
“We are going to every depot and trying to convince the staffers to do their duty. The letters written by Transport Minister Diwakar Raote are being read out to them,” said a senior officer.